Originally created 01/20/99

Rodman retiring, maybe



CHICAGO -- Rainbow-haired, pierced, tattooed. And now, retired.

Dennis Rodman, whose multicolored hairdos, earrings and body art made a fashion statement across the NBA and beyond, has become the latest star to leave Chicago as the Bulls rebuild after the retirement of Michael Jordan.

The seven-time rebounding leader who once donned a wedding gown, kicked a cameraman, dated Madonna and head-butted a referee is leaving the game, Rodman's agent said Tuesday.

"He doesn't want to play," Dwight Manley said, although Rodman has considered retiring in each of the last five years.

"He wants to go into the sports and entertainment field. Some people have convinced him that he wants to become a movie star."

Manley got the news from Rodman in a phone conversation Tuesday and said there are several teams still interested in signing the wacky 37-year-old Rodman, known for his ferocious workouts and frequent forays to Las Vegas.

Hours after his agent, Dwight Manley, announced Rodman was leaving the game for good, the NBA's most outlandish player denied it.

Manley, who said he is severing his relationship with Rodman, declined to identify the teams that are interested in the "Worm."

One team not interested is the Chicago Bulls, who are housecleaning this week following the retirement of Jordan. Scottie Pippen, Luc Longley and Steve Kerr are all headed to new teams.

Rodman won three championships with the Bulls in 1996, 1997 and 1998, and two titles with the Detroit Pistons in 1989 and 1990.

But off the court is where Rodman marketed himself and became a marked man for his antics and ventures into poor taste.

He once announced his marriage, only to show up at a New York book signing in a wedding gown and blond wig -- sans groom; he offended Mormons and was fined $50,000 for making derogatory comments during the 1997 finals in Salt Lake City; he skipped practice during the NBA Finals last summer to attend a wrestling match in Detroit, and later as "Rodzilla" teamed with Hulk Hogan to beat Karl Malone and Diamond Dallas Page.

He drew a six-game suspension for head-butting referee Ted Bernhardt in 1996 and drew another for 11 games in 1997 for kicking a courtside cameraman in Minneapolis.

He was always in trouble, first in his latter years with the Pistons; throughout his brief stay in San Antonio, where his behavior damaged Spurs' chances at the NBA title; and then during his three championships years with the Bulls, where he became a Chicago favorite.

Rodman became popular in his first season with the Bulls for taking his No. 91 jersey off and throwing it into the stands after every home game.

His tardiness and selfish antics often tested his teammates' patience and that of coach Phil Jackson, who handled him as well as anyone could.

Jackson, at the time, suggested an ultimate therapy for his bad-boy board man.

"Electric shock is the next treatment," Jackson said.

Rodman has appeared in movies and TV shows, had a stint on MTV, and wrote his life story, "Bad As I Wanna Be," that became a bestseller.

He has been sued -- most recently by a cocktail waitress who said he jammed a $100 bill down her blouse and grabbed her breast.

The man who once courted Madonna recently married girlfriend Carmen Electra, although days later there were reports of an annulment.

In another bizarre chapter, however, Electra later denied the marriage was off.

Rodman didn't need the ball to be effective. His career scoring average was just 7.5 points, but at 6-foot-8 he was one of the great rebounders in league history with a 13.2 average and seven straight titles.

He had an uncanny sense of where the ball would come off the rim, in addition to the ability to tip rebounds to himself with his long arms.

And he was also one of the game's most bothersome defenders -- grabbing, shoving and holding under the basket -- to the frustration of his opponents.

Then-Seattle coach George Karl accused Rodman of flopping to draw fouls during the 1996 finals, but he also was quick to say Rodman was the difference in a grueling six-game series with the Bulls.

Rodman set various school records for shooting and rebounding during his career at Southeastern Oklahoma State from 1983 to 1985. He led the Savages to a third-place finish in the NAIA his senior year.

His jersey has been retired at the school in Durant, which also inducted Rodman into its Hall of Fame.

"It's helped us in recruiting," said Southeastern coach Tony Robinson. "Kids are always calling, interested in the school Dennis Rodman played in."

Robinson did not coach Rodman but did watch him play. Robinson described Rodman as tough and competitive as a student.

"He was, believe it or not, real quiet and shy when he played here," he said.

Rodman was selected by the Pistons in the second round of 1986 and spent seven years there before being traded to the Spurs in 1993.

He came to the Bulls in 1995 and blended with Jordan and Pippen to help Chicago capture three straight titles.